I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.You May Kiss the Bride by Lisa Berne
Series: Penhallow Dynasty #1
Published by Avon on March 28th 2017
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Historical, Regency, General
Purchase Links: Amazon | iBooks | Kobo | IndieBound | Google Play
ADD TO GOODREADS:
In an unforgettable debut, Lisa Berne introduces you to the Penhallow Dynasty—men destined to marry, but hesitant to love.
Wealthy and arrogant, Gabriel Penhallow knows it’s time to fulfill his dynastic duty. All he must do is follow “The Penhallow way”—find a biddable bride, produce an heir and a spare, and then live separate lives. It’s worked so well for generations, certainly one kiss with the delectable Livia Stuart isn’t going to change things. Society dictates he marry her, and one chit is as good as another as long as she’s from a decent family.
But Livia’s transformation from an original to a mundane diamond of the first water makes Gabriel realize he desperately wants the woman who somehow provoked him into that kiss. And for all the ladies who’ve thrown themselves at him, it’s the one who wants to flee whom he now wants. But how will he keep this independent miss from flying away?
You May Now Kiss the Bride, the debut of author Lisa Berne, follows the engagement between a couple caught in a compromising position. The steady pacing allows them the chance to fall into lust, and eventually, everlasting love with one another.
The product of a “suitable” (i.e. loveless) marriage, Gabriel Penhallow has never contemplated the idea of marrying for love, much less ever experiencing that emotion for himself.
A penniless orphan raised by her uncaring aunt and uncle, Livia Stuart has a heart full of love and no one to give it to, nor has she ever experienced being loved in return, much less having felt wanted.
Gabriel comes to the area to meet, and propose to, the suitable, biddable girl his grandmother has selected for him. He is expected to marry, produce an heir and a spare, then live a life separate from his wife. The “Penhallow way” is about duty and respectability. A chance encounter in the woods with the dangerously fascinating Livia eventually leads to a forbidden kiss in the garden outside a ballroom. Gabriel does indeed leave with a fianceé — only it’s a far different one than intended.
Gabriel does not comprehend how, once graced with his (admittedly reluctant) offer of marriage, the poor and socially unconnected Miss Stuart does not obediently follow the Penhallow way and simply go off to Bath with him and his autocratic grandmother to be made physically and socially acceptable. The stubborn Gabriel has met his match in the feisty Livia.
Livia’s kind heart and determined spirit eventually begin to win over the Penhallow matriarch (with a few bumps in the road – hooray for three-dimensional secondary characters!). These traits, added to her unique beauty and arresting sense of humor, also have a profound effect on Gabriel. Maybe there is more to life than duty? Through it all, Livia remains true to herself, learning her own value as she navigates “the Penhallow way”.
At first, I thought the engagement for a couple caught in a compromising situation seemed a bit long. I think I’m just used to most books tossing the naughty pair at the altar and then letting the emotional growth and affection happen after the vows. This is where author Lisa Berne set the trope on its head — with an excellent payoff.
I could have done without a slightly contrived misunderstanding towards the end. However, it was resolved quickly so no lasting effect my overall enjoyment of the book or to the plot (it did serve to demonstrate character growth).
Gabriel never even considered he had a choice in a life-mate and Livia had given up the dream of ever being anyone’s choice. By allowing them time before entering into a marriage, the author gave her characters (and readers) the gift of time and realistic relationship development. By the time he was told, “You May Now Kiss the Bride,” there was nothing but honesty and true affection between Gabriel and Livia. The choice was theirs. View Spoiler »Not exactly a spoiler. Since this is a romance novel, a happy ending is expected – it’s the journey there that’s unexpected and NOT spoiled here. « Hide Spoiler
And I suggest you choose to read You May Now Kiss the Bride. Lisa Berne has produced a truly delightful heroine in Livia and provided her with a man who proves himself worthy of her, giving readers lots of fun, a little heartache, and plenty of passion throughout.
Sneak Peek into You May now kiss the Bride
She had been dismissed. Livia rose and after dipping the briefest of curtsies in Lady Glanville’s direction, went to the door with long strides, so angry that she felt she had to get out of there or explode. Behind her she heard Aunt Bella saying in a soft little bleat, “Livia! No word of gratitude! Pray come back!” Instead, she closed the door with exaggerated gentleness and leaned against it for a moment.
By the bannister stood a maidservant with an armful of gowns. With a muttered sentence of thanks Livia took them and hurried upstairs to her room where with savage satisfaction she flung the gowns against the wall, leaving them to lie in a crumpled heap on the floor. She paced back and forth, back and forth, until the red haze of rage subsided. Then she went to her bed and dropped fulllength upon it with unladylike abandon, causing the old wood frame to creak alarmingly.
It was stupid of her, she knew, to react like that to the Orrs. But it was hard, so hard, when Cecily had every thing and she had so very little. No parents, no brothers or sisters; no money, no education, no prospects.
Your future must be thought of, too.
It was strange, now that she considered it, how little time she had spent thinking about her future. Possibly because there was no point to it. In her existence here she was like a great hoary tree, deeply, immovably, rooted into the earth.
She couldn’t even hang on to the morbid hope of inheriting anything from Uncle Charles when he died. He’d run through most of Aunt Bella’s money ages ago, and year by year everything had slowly declined, dwindled, faded away. Now there wasn’t much left; the estate barely brought in enough for Aunt Bella to pay for her cordial, and for Uncle Charles to spend his days hunting, drinking, and eating. Speaking of romantic marriages.
Well, it could be worse. At least she didn’t have a mother like that revolting Lady Glanville. Imagine having her breathing down one’s neck all day.
Still, this was only a small consolation. A very small consolation.
Livia thought about Cecily’s beautiful white gown and those elegant kid slippers with the dainty pink rosettes.
It was those rosettes that did it.
Envy, like a nasty little knife slipping easily into soft flesh, seemed to pierce her very soul.
Abruptly Livia twisted onto her side and stared at nothing.
She would not cry.
Crying never helped anything.
There came to her, suddenly, the memory of the first time she had met Cecily, some twelve years ago; they’d both been around six. Cecily and her mother had come to call. Livia, recently arrived from faraway India, desperately lonely, was so anxious to be friends with the lovely, beautifully dressed girl with the long shining curls. Shyly she had approached, trying to smile, and Cecily had responded by saying in a clear, carrying voice:
“Oh, you’re the little orfin girl. Your papa was sent away from here and he died. And your grandpapa was a runaway and he drownded. And your mama drownded, too. Why is your skin so brown? Are you dirty?” And she had backed away, to hide behind the skirts of her mother Lady Glanville, who had said to her, with that same cold smile that never reached her eyes, “Poor little Livia isn’t a native, my dear, she’s every bit as English as you and I. The sun shines quite fiercely in India, and she had no mama or papa to make sure she stayed under her parasol. Do you see?”
Livia had never forgotten the burning sense of shame from that day. Nor had Cecily made it any easier, for from time to time she would laughingly recall the occasion of their first meeting and how she had thought Livia to be unwashed, as if it was the funniest anecdote in all the world.
Livia did not like to remember, even if only hazily, how when she was four, the monsoon season struck Kanpur with devastating onslaughts of rain. Both her widowed mother and her grandfather had died in a great flood, and it was with grudging reluctance that Uncle Charles had sent money for his niece’s passage to England.
Upon arriving in Wiltshire, Livia was not so much welcomed into the home—if such the ancient, ram bling domicile known as Ealdor Abbey could be so termed—of Uncle Charles and Aunt Bella, as absorbed. Aside from grumbling within earshot about the expense of feeding her, Uncle Charles barely noticed her. Aunt Bella, childless, somnolent, always unwell, with interest in neither Society nor useful occupation, accepted Livia’s presence without a blink but also without care or concern for the little girl for whom she was, ostensibly, responsible.
Oh, you’re the little orfin girl.
Livia smiled without humor.
Yes indeed, Cecily certainly had a knack for getting to the heart of things.